The Chanute Post 170 American Legion baseball team actually outhit its opponents in its first game of Zone Tournament action on Tuesday afternoon. This disparity did not translate into more runs for the local Legion team, as Chanute fell 11-6 in the match-up.
“It seemed like every time we scored a little bit, we let up and they scored,” Coach Ryan Ortiz said about his Chanute squad, which outhit Ark City 11-9 in the match-up. “We let them right back in it.”
The loss puts Chanute into a match-up against Winfield this afternoon at 4 p.m. in Katy Park. Winfield lost to Wichita Air Capitals 13-3 in an early Tuesday afternoon contest.
“We’ve got to play the whole nine innings,” Ortiz said.
Garrett Bailey started the contest on the mound for Chanute, eventually allowing 10 runs in six innings, walking two and striking out seven.
“Garrett threw well,” Ortiz said. “There were a pitches where he had a guy 0-2 or 1-2, and they’d just hit the crap out of it. It was just a little mistake on his part, but he threw good enough to win if we’d just had some defense behind him.”
A triple, a RBI double, and a run-scoring bloop single combined to give Ark City an early two-run lead in the top of the first. Chanute had an opportunity to narrow that gap in the bottom of the inning, but left two runners stranded. Leaving runners on base was a recurring pattern for Chanute in the game.
“We took way too many pitches,” Ortiz said.
He hoped the team would improve at this and be more willing to swing at pitches close to the strike zone in its next game.
Two more Ark City runs scored on a double in the top of the third, but Chanute responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning. A Jordan Richards single and a bad throw allowed Christian Wiltse to sneak home and Jordan Richards snuck in on an errant throw to put Post 170 within two runs of the lead.
At this point in the contest, Ortiz was telling his players they should still try to chip away at the lead, stay in the game and put Ark City on their heels.
“We did that at times, but we let them right back in it,” Ortiz said.
Briefly following this advice, Chanute made further advances in the bottom of the fourth, when a double by Aaron Haviland brought in Zach Vanatta to score.
However, Ark City responded to this with five runs, off a series of singles and doubles in the top of the fifth.
Ortiz noted that Bailey was pretty much cruising until this point in the game.
“A couple of little mental mistakes, and they put it on us,” Ortiz said, “and we couldn’t come back from that.”
Ortiz feels that if Chanute had gotten a hit or two in the bottom of that inning, forging a comeback would have been a possibility. However, Chanute garnered three consecutive outs in this span.
“They took us down 1-2-3,” Ortiz said. “When you’re a coach and your team just scored five runs, and you get the other team 1-2-3, you’re thinking you’ve got their confidence down and they’re done. That’s kind of the way it was with us.”
Another Ark City run was added off an error in the top of the sixth.
Trez Martinez started the bottom of the sixth with a triple and scored on a sacrifice grounder by Vanatta, but Chanute still trailed by six runs.
Martinez was brought in to pitch in the top of the seventh, and ended up allowing only one earned run and no hits in three innings of work.
“Trez threw well, too,” Ortiz said. “We’ve got the pitching still going for us.”
Part of the reason Ortiz pulled Bailey when he did is that Post 170 could still feasibly use his arm for six more innings in this tournament. Martinez could also conceivably pitch for Chanute in the next couple of days.
In the bottom of that inning, Haviland took advantage of a wild pitch to score and a single by Manbeck brought in Richards. This had Chanute within five runs of Ark City.
This gap was widened with an Ark City score on a passed ball in the top of the eighth, and Ark City was able to hold on for the five-run victory.
“When we gave up five runs, and then came out there and laid an egg, we have to be able to battle and put something together,” Ortiz said.
Jordan Richards went three-for-five and scored two runs in the match-up.
“Hopefully, we’re set up good enough to come back in this thing, and win three games and go to State,” Ortiz said.
A game involving first-seeded Pittsburg and Wichita went past press time last night, and its winner will take on Ark City tonight at 7 p.m. Since the first-seeded Pittsburg squad is hosting the State Tournament next week, it will qualify for the event no matter what it does in this Zone tournament. The other teams at this zone tournament are competing for a spot at the Pittsburg tourney, with the team that does on the bracket among them qualifying to make that trip.
Chanute’s next chance to do that and set a winning course through the bracket will continue this afternoon at 4 against Winfield at the stadium in Katy Park.
“The only thing I’ve stressed to the kids is that we’ve got to make something happen early in these games against these pitchers,” Ortiz said. “We can’t be taking these pitches right down the middle, and hopefully we become aggressive and want to win. That’s the biggest thing.”
Ark City 2 0 2 0 5 1 0 0 0 - 11
Chanute 0 0 2 1 0 1 2 0 0 - 6
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